~~A new year offers a fresh start and an opportunity to set goals for a better life. Improving health and well-being is a common goal for many people this time of year, but as January turns to February and winter to spring, some people find it difficult to make positive lifestyle changes a lasting part of their daily routine. For most people, however, it’s possible to make incremental changes that pay off in the long run. Here are some strategies to consider:
Ignore the calendar and persevere. While January is a popular time for resolution-making, efforts to improve health can begin at any time year-round. Don’t be discouraged by false starts or setbacks. Commit to stay the course, evaluate your past experience and adjust your plan accordingly to improve your chance for success. When it comes to health and wellness, people tend to make more progress when they set small, realistic goals and work their way up from there.
Seek advice and support. If you’re attempting to improve your diet or begin an exercise routine, take advantage of resources available for advice and support. Reliable nutrition information is available online at choosemyplate.gov, a website developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meeting with your primary care doctor is also a great place to start. He or she can recommend customized resources and connect you with other professionals, such as dietitians and personal trainers to help you develop an individualized plan.
Resist fads; opt for change that’s sustainable. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is—especially when it comes to fad diets or “get fit quick” exercise programs. The best way to improve overall health is to eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and exercise regularly. Again, your primary care provider is a good resource if your goals include losing a significant amount of weight or starting an exercise program after a period of inactivity or an injury.
Make health goals a priority and uncover your motivation. Finding time for exercise and healthy eating can be difficult when life is busy. As with any other appointment, block time on your calendar for exercise, healthy meal planning and trips to the grocery store or farmers market. Most importantly, think about why you want to get healthy and use that motivation to fuel your commitment and drive progress.